The Raven: A Modern Retelling – Book Review

By: Elise Wallace
Illustrated By: Linda Silvestri
Published On: October 15, 2019

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

– The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe

My memory of first learning about Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven is sketchy. What I do remember are two things: 1) The poem was rather spooky to me. After all, it has a raven saying over and over again one single word -“Nevermore.” Yes, I think it is safe to say that a raven tapping at your chamber door definitely falls into the creepy category. Yet the use of this raven also enhances the overall otherworldly and melancholy atmosphere the poem presents. At the time, I suspect I found it spookier because I didn’t think raven’s could talk at all. Now that I am older and wiser I know that raven’s can speak even better than parrots since they can mimic the pitch of a woman’s voice vs a man’s. There are many examples on Youtube of talking ravens that are quite fun to listen to.

The second memory is that no matter how much time my teacher took explaining either the themes within it or allegorical parts or whatever else scholars say something is in order to make a story or poem sound important, the poem still never made 100% sense. Apparently, I must not be alone in this.

In The Raven: A Modern Retelling, the authors set out on a quest to help younger children understand the poem’s meaning. The story opens with Heath arriving at his new house. It’s an old house built in the 1800s and he definitely doesn’t like it. His family has moved across the country away from his old school and friend Lenore. He’s sad about leaving behind his friend, when he begins to have dreams about a raven outside his window saying “Nevermore!”.

Although the original poem by Edgar Allan Poe still has some sections to it that can be a little more difficult to follow, I found the retelling to be a decent introduction to the poem as it shows a main character going into a slow madness as he becomes more and more distraught about all these changes that are out of his control. Using an example of a young boy moving away and leaving friends is something just about all of us can understand. The good news is that this book is for younger middle-grade age kids, so there is a happy-ish ending.

The Raven is actually really short at only 32 pages and contains a few colorful pictures. Also included in the story are some book club questions to help guide the discussion surrounding the main points or themes of the story, such as asking them how the tone changes throughout the book or about the raven.

Description:

“Heath and his family have moved from the West Coast to New York. It’s a total culture shock. Everything feels wrong: the cold weather, the new house, even his dreams. But the worst part of the move is Heath is away from his best friend Lenore”–

9 thoughts on “The Raven: A Modern Retelling – Book Review

  1. Natalie Aguirre

    Cool that the authors found a creative way to retell this poem that kids will relate to in a small book. Thanks for sharing it today.

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  2. I remember loving the poem, but couldn’t tell you why… So yea, I agree with you. It never made 100% sense. Since my daughter has struggled to connect with poetry in the past, this might open up a whole new world for her! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I never completely understood the Raven in my youth, perhaps now may be different. But, I’m delighted that the author has retold this story so that it may be more appealing to young people and an excellent companion book when reading/studying the poem at school. Great resource for teachers too. Great share today!

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  4. I’m also a confused reader of The Raven. This title will certainly clear up any confusion I had. Such a wonderful idea to bring the meaning into words middle graders (and me) will understand. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.

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  5. I think I should revisit The Raven as an adult. I especially like that this version for kids would give them a beginning understanding on it. That is one of my favorite things when books help lay the foundation for later learning. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Andrea Mack

    What an intriguing idea for a book! I don’t know much about The Raven beyond quoting the famous line but I’m very curious now about this retelling.

    Like

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